What Was The USGA Thinking ?!
So let’s get this straight. The best 144 players in the world tee off on Thursday to pursue one of the planet’s most important major golf championships. They duel it out on a tough golf course for four days, until there are only two left standing. The next day they tee it up again and go head to head in a very entertaining slugfest for 18 more holes . . . still dead even.

So the USGA says, “We’re tired boys, and want to go home. Let’s just play one hole for all the marbles.” And all the good golf before is wiped from the slate, and the entire thing is put on possibly (like it was yesterday) one swing.

I felt cheated; how about you ?

In the old days, our National Championship was determined by a full 36 holes the next day if there was a tie after 72 holes. The wisdom of the day was that the purpose was to determine the best golfer, so the playoff was long enough so that he could emerge. Some time after that, when they shortened the playoff to 18 holes, if there was still a tie after the 18 hole playoff, they teed it up the next day for another 18.

But then our penchant for immediate gratification, the intense pressure to raise the purses and put on a show for television and who-knows-what-other-logic created the sudden-death playoff. One hole at a time for all the marbles. Well, the way I see it, that’s fine for the run-of-the-mill weekly multimillion dollar party. But NOT our National Championship. Not this one. Hell, if they are going to do it that way, why not just have a chip-off beside the 18th green ?  It would be just as idiotic, wouldn’t it ?

So, this is to start my crusade to get the USGA to find a better way. Not just one hole for our National Championship. Never.

Here's my idea – let’s hear yours.

National Championship Playoff Formula for 2009 and Beyond.


The players tee it up the following day for a series of six-hole medal play matches. One point for a win, ½ for a tie. Best two out of three wins the championship. If there is a tie after three, another six-hole match to determine, then another if necessary, then another if still tied . . . until you have a real winner. If there are more than two players to start the playoff, only the low two and ties advance from each six hole match.

I’m sure the details could be worked out, but we would eliminate the possibility of the U.S. Open Championship being determined by a single swing, as it was yesterday.

I still feel cheated.
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[ comments ]
John says:
Terry,
Good thought, but I feel like that if it hasn't been settled by 18, then sudden death is ok. Just as long as they don't use sudden death immediately after regulation. Much like soccer, where they play 2 extra periods and then go to penalties, there is a chance for someone to win over 'regulation' distance. I feel that the USGA, in holding to the 18 hole playoff, really has given the chance for the better golfer to win it. If it doesn't happen, then the sudden death is more acceptable than the Masters' system. The 3 or 4 hole playoff offers closure that day, which is also a good thing. I had to watch in between patients on my laptop, and even then missed 16-18 and the 19th, and watched that last night on ESPN Classic. Good thought, but I feel that 18 holes is enough of a chance to avoid the 'lottery' of the sudden death playoff.
6/17/08
 
Tim says:
The Open was not determined by 1 hole. It was determined by 19 holes. Both had their chances to close the deal in 18 holes. Maybe I feel that way since my guy got the W. Seems like your's didn't. I personally favor a four hole playoff system to be played immediately following the finish of 72 holes. IMO, plenty enough to determine the best golfer. The US Open is a stroke play tournament and the idea of suddenly switching to match/medal play is rediculous. It's a whole different mentality in match play. A whole different strategy. Every stroke should count in crowning The US Open champ.
6/17/08
 
Jim says:
I agree with the other two posts. I don't like the idea. There was 72 holes to determine a champion and then another 18. We don't need anymore and one hole is what it eventually has to come down to. The british open gets it right with the four hole playoff. I think that is the best system in all the majors.
6/17/08
 
iacas says:
The field was 156 players, not 144.

The problem with doing a "sudden death" or "near-sudden death" (3 or 4 holes) playoff is that one of the players, particularly in a U.S. Open where a round of -3 can move you up 30 places, may have been sitting around for several hours while one of the others may have just finished. That could be an advantage or a disadvantage - the player could have figured out a flaw on the practice tee (positive) or gotten out of the flow of playing golf or gotten stiff or something (negative).

18 holes is enough, and the last 36-hole playoff was a looooooooong time ago. With an 18-hole playoff, both competitors play the same course, under the same exact conditions, and paired together. There's no big gap if they then shift to sudden-death after the 18 holes because both players have exactly the same opportunities, setup, conditions, etc.

I like the way it was done.
6/18/08
 
duffy says:
It was a great tournament. Compelling golf from beginning to end. I have no complaints.

I think where you go wrong is in the notion of a "national champion." It's just one tournament. Other courses on the schedule (depending on a variety of factors, weather, set up, etc) provide just as complete an "examination" of a golfer's skills. And it's pretty much the same players playing every week. This week the trophy/prize/"story" is different, so we make a bigger deal out of it. But if you step back, it's kind of silly.

Rocco could easily have won. So, on the "national champion" story, the 156th (?) ranked golfer, who has missed more cuts than he has made this year, would have been this year's "national champion" because he got hot at the right time?
6/18/08
 
Wayde says:
I love the sudden death format, immediately following regulation. Every shot is worth the same amount in golf, so I don't really agree with the logic. If it's tied after 71 holes, the 72nd hole is essentially a sudden death playoff. No one says that all of the previous holes were meaningless.
Also, I think the people who paid for a Sunday ticket deserve to see a winner.
6/19/08
 
wedgeguy says:
You guys got me here. Thanks for letting me know you think I'm all wet on this idea of feeling "cheated". Hopefully you'll forgive me for being so off base on this one.
6/19/08
 
Glenn Morrow says:
I agree the USGA loaded that playoff for a Tiger win and picking that first sudden death hole was the worst possible choice for Rocco draw! I was pulling for the Rocco because he hung in for the entire 4 rounds and the 18 hole playoff and I just hoped he could pull it off. We do not need another Tiger win every time out and this was an example of how the golf world had put all their eggs on one basket. What if Tiger's knee does not come back even 85% then what? I loved this tournament and I love it when these guys have to work to break par because we work hard to play well and for them to win at -12 or whatever is bogus!
6/23/08
 
iacas says:
Glenn, you can't "agree" because:
a) logistically, it made sense. That tee is closest to the 18th green.
b) it was decided well in advance of the first round being played.

It's not an opinion. It's a matter of fact that the USGA didn't "load" anything to punish Rocco.
6/24/08
 
IceMan says:
I absolutely love the fact that the USGA has not surrendered to pressure from the TV stations and still has the 18-hole playoff. The playoff was great fun, one of the most exciting and fun round of golf I've watched. I also had the feeling that it was very friendly, even though a lot was at stakes. But after playing 72 holes in regulation, and another 18 in a playoff, and two guys still even, any way to decide a winner will be cruel, because obviously both of them deserve to win. I would have loved to see Rocco win, but I'm also happy for Tiger, but it's cruel that only one man can win, when in this case Rocco so completely deserved it too.
7/2/08
 
Will says:
I like the USGA playoff format exactly the way it is. Play it out over 18 holes. I don't like the sudden death format, like it's played in NFL Football, where the team that wins the coin flip, scores, and game over. The other team should also get a chance to score, like it's played in the CFL [Canadian Football League] or in NCAA college games. I don't like the shoot-out in Soccer either. It doesn't really demonstrate the full abilities of the players/teams. It's more like a lucky kick. So, for golf, I rather see a prolonged playoff of 18 holes or 6 to 9 holes. Everyone gets lucky every now and then, but it takes skill and good luck to be good.
7/3/08
 
Will says:
BTW, I found this website because of: Fred Greene's GolfSmarter/GolfBetter.

www.smarterpodcasts.com/golfsmarter/golfsmarter.
7/3/08
 
mjaber says:
Looking at Tiger's Match Play record, the USGA would never go to a match play formula for a tie in regulation.
6/26/09
 
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Terry Koehler is "The Wedge Guy" and President of SCOR Golf- The Short Game Company.

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